Smith machines are seen in every gym, and yet they get a bad rap - especially among hardcore gym regulars and powerlifters. Because of this, there is a lot of discussion surrounding Smith machines, in addition to a host of commonly asked questions.
One of these questions is how much does a Smith machine bar weigh?
You are not alone in asking that question. And if you ever considered whether Smith machines reduce the weight, the real answer might surprise you.
In this guide, we run through the important things you need to know about Smith machines, including the different types of Smith machines, Smith machine bar weight, Smith machines vs free weights, and lastly, why everyone seems to hate the Smith machine.
Types Of Smith Machine
First of all, we need to understand the different types of Smith machines. This is important as not all Smith machines are the same and therefore not all Smith machine bars weigh the same.
There are three main types of Smith machines. These are the most common Smith machines, and include:
- home Smith machine, or residential Smith machine
- commercial Smith machine
- all-in-one Smith machine, or multifunctional/multi-gym Smith machine
The home Smith machine is the most basic. It features a movable bar on a three-sided frame.
The commercial Smith machine is the one you will typically see at the gym. It has added structural support, weight plate racks, and sometimes a pull-up bar.
Multifunctional Smith machines are also common in gyms and have additional built-in features, such as an adjustable bench, pull-up bar, lat pull-down machine, and weight rack.
There is one more type of Smith machine, called a 3D Smith machine, in which the bar can be moved horizontally as well as vertically, but these are still relatively new and uncommon.
If you're wondering which type is the best for your needs, this guide to the best home smith machines will definitely help.
What Is A Smith Machine Used For?
Common Smith machine exercises are the bench press, barbell squat, and shoulder press (overhead press or military press). Weight plates can be added to the bar to increase the resistance and difficulty of the exercise.
How Much Does A Smith Machine Bar Weigh?
So, the main question: how much does a Smith machine bar weigh?
Unfortunately, the answer depends on the overall size (width) of the Smith machine, as well as the thickness, quality, and metal of the bar itself.
In general, however, you’re looking at a total bar weight of between 15 lb and 20 lb, or 6.8 kg and 9 kg.
Remember, if you are ever uncertain of the weight of a barbell, it doesn’t hurt to quickly ask the staff at the gym.
Does Bar Weight Count On A Smith Machine?
The Smith machine has a reputation for making exercises “easier”, and this is due to the stability Smith machines provide. The bar cannot move back and forth, therefore reducing the overall effort involved to balance the bar.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with the added assistance if you are a beginner, or if you just want to lift heavy and not have to focus on balancing the bar. Smith machines can also be beneficial for people with injuries.
Despite this, the assistance on Smith machines is not to be confused with reduced weight - and that includes the weight of the bar itself. Bar weight still counts on Smith machines, as you are still having to push the bar in a vertical plane.
It might be easier to lift, but the weight is still there - the Smith machine is not the one doing the lifting!
Is A Smith Machine As Good As Free Weights?
The main difference between lifting on a Smith machine and lifting free weights (namely dumbbells and barbells) is that there is no fixed structure supporting the free weights as you lift them, hence the name.
With free weights, you are lifting them up and down, but also balancing them in the air to stop them from moving forward or backwards. On a Smith machine, the balancing element is eliminated.
Lifting free weights and lifting weight on a Smith machine both have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to ability level and specific goals. Either way, both training methods have the capacity to build strength.
Why Does Everyone Hate The Smith Machine?
So, why does everyone hate the Smith machine?
The answer stems from what we discussed above: the Smith machine eliminates the need to balance the barbell, and therefore Smith machine exercises are considered “easier” or “less beneficial”.
However, the Smith is not without its advantages, and these include helping beginners to build strength and allowing weightlifters to focus solely on lifting heavy, so it shouldn’t be snubbed or looked on in a negative light.
If you personally like using the Smith machine, nothing should stop you from using it.
Should You Use A Smith Machine?
If you want to perform barbell squats, shoulder presses, or bench presses without having to balance the barbell, that is what the Smith machine is there for.
The Smith machine is ideal for beginners or newcomers to the gym, people with minor injuries (or recovering from injury), and even professional weightlifters and powerlifters who just want to focus on lifting heavy.
Ultimately, as long as the exercise challenges you, you are going to increase your strength and build muscle.
The Short Answer
In short, Smith machine bars can weigh between 15 lb and 20 lb (6.8 kg and 9 kg). This will depend on the overall size of the Smith machine and the bar itself. Of course, if in doubt, simply ask the gym staff or your personal trainer to get an accurate answer.
For beginners, this is worth knowing and noting, as the weight of the bar - in any exercise involving a barbell - counts towards the overall weight you are lifting. You are not just lifting the weight plates, but the bar as well!